psychology, Yoga philosophy

‘Who am I?’ – The Ultimate Question in Yoga Philosophy

I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me.”

― Hermann Hesse

Our life is often full of new developments, with a busy schedule and many roles to fulfill. We are bombarded with information and driven by high expectations. After more than a year of slowing down and turning inward, it is tempting to go back to the old habit of running around and trying to make the most of our life. We have big dreams to make true. This can be fun, inspiring and energizing, but it can also be exhausting. Moreover, caught up by all activities and running in the same circles over and over again, we can be kept away or drift away from our true, inner selves.

Who am I?

This is the ultimate question in yoga philosophy. The true Self, in this approach, is a universal sense of being. It goes beyond the way we define ourselves, the characteristics we attribute to our personality, the stories we tell ourselves. The question ‘Who am I’ can be misleading, as if we should be seeking all the time. As if we should try very hard to know or understand who we are.

Ironically, trying to understand who you are and seeking answers all the time, actually also makes you move away from who you are. You are maybe expecting yourself to behave in a specific way – as a ‘true yogi’ (whatever image you may have of that). You’re still caught up in your mind, and creating a limited idea of who you are, instead of experiencing you all-encompassing, peaceful self.

Simply being

This sounds a little confusing maybe, and to be honest I am not sure I have the right answer. I’m still learning too 😉 But Eastern philosophies such as yoga and daoism, as well as therapeutic approaches in modern psychology such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) that I am working with have taught me one important lesson: being yourself is very simple!

To be yourself, you don’t have to seek. Simply being, just as you are in this moment, is all you need to do. Find some stillness, notice your body, listen to your breath, observe thoughts and feelings as they come and go. That’s all. Don’t try to be anything else than that.

Being comfortable with who you are

The more you practice, the more you become comfortable with simply being. The more you start to experience who you are – that your ‘true self’ is always present, whatever you do, wherever you are. Your ‘Self’ is always here, nowhere else. You’ll grow familiar with that sense of self as long as you allow yourself to be.

The more we can be really comfortable with simply being, the more the real us bubbles to the surface. And the more we can make real connections with others. It saves a lot of time and ‘decoration’ – decoration for wanting to be perceived in a certain way, even by ourselves.

We can let go of all this decoration through the practice of yoga. It all relates to how we move. If you are brave enough to look at how you move, how your habits are, then you can start changing these habits if they aren’t serving you. This helps you to start moving in harmony with yourself.

All you practice in yoga permeates to all aspects of your life: how you move, how you breathe, who you are. So even if you’re excited about everything you can do when things open up after a long lockdown, stay true to yourself.

Allow yourself to be simply who you are.

If you want to practice with going back to who you are, you can find a simple yoga practice here.

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